By Len Clements © 2002
If you ever want to determine the level of honesty and/or MLM savvy of the person trying to sponsor you, the best question you can ask is the worst question you can ask…
How much money will I make?
If your prospective sponsor even begins to try to give you a definitive answer to this question, or worse, further defines the amount of time it will take to get you there, they either A); are a naive rookie that honestly doesn’t know any better and is likely just repeating the same garbage they were recently fed by their sponsor, or B) they’re making up garbage on their own and feeding it to you in an effort to tell you what they think you want to hear.
I can’t count the number of times a prospect has asked me for a specific income expectation. Or, as just occurred recently, a prospect will state their income goal then ask how long they’d have to work to achieve it. In this most recent case, my prospect wanted to make “$5,000 per month” and asked if that was “possible” within six months. I then inform him that his question is impossible to answer, knowing full well they my competition is likely responding with an enthusiastic “Absolutely!” Why is it impossible to answer? Let us count the ways.
Such a question is kind of like stating the algebraic equation Y+T+L=5,000, then asking what Y, T and L equal. Mathematically, this would be impossible to answer. Nor is it possible in MLM.
Y=You. Your ability, your efforts, your personality, your contact base (or “center of influence”).
T=Them. Those you enroll, and those they enroll – and their abilities, effort, attitudes, and contacts.
L=Luck. Call it serendipity, call it fate, call it divine intervention. Call it what you will, but call it something, because it counts.
If you were a talented high school basketball player looking for a college to sign with, would you ask each recruiter how many NCAA championships you’ll win? Of course not, because he’d have to predict the Y, the T (in this case it stands for Team), and the L factors.
Even you can’t accurately predict what you will do, how well you’ll do it, how fast you’ll get better at it, how you’ll react to failure (or success), and how long you’ll wish to do it. So how can you’re sponsor possibly judge this?
An even greater wild card is what others will do. You can control what you do, but you can’t control what others do. Nor can you even begin to predict how well they will do and how soon. I know someone who’s been working the same MLM program for over three years, has personally sponsored 55 people, and not one has done a thing. I know another person who, just two months after joining my downline, enrolled a couple who built a leg over over 900 people in just three months. These are good examples, albeit extreme, of how unpredictable the success of others in your downline can be.
The Luck factor accounts for everything else. The more regulatory conscience reader my wince a bit on this point, so let’s be clear. I’m not talking about luck in the sense of a lottery or gambling, per se. I’m talking about that intangible factor that helps us succeed in any type of business, or in life for that matter. Was it skill or effort that put John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the same neighborhood as children? Or that caused a stage hand named Clint Eastwood to catch the eye of a famous director? Obviously, talent was eventually a factor. But how many very talented people never succeed because they just couldn’t get a break? There’s quite a few in MLM as well?
There’s also just the opposite situation. I know someone who was the number three earner in a very large MLM company, yet openly admitted to having little knowledge of MLM, and only a handful of personally sponsored people. Fortunately for him, one of them was the number one earner in the company. You might enroll 100 people in your MLM career, and three will develop into superstars and make you wealthy. And they might be the second, third, and fifth person you enroll – or the 94th, 97th, and 99th person you enroll.
There are external factors to consider. You could have done the exact same things, in the exact same company, using the exact same tools, in 1998 (the midst of our most recent MLM slump) and had twice the success had you done them in 1991 (our last MLM boom). As I attest to in my audio presentation “The Coming Network Marketing Boom” we are coming out of that most recent slump and on the verge of our next boom, so this factor looks positive for everyone right now.
I’ve heard more than one wealthy MLMer claim “The harder I work the luckier I get” in an effort to sarcastically discredit the luck factor. No, the harder they work, the more effectively they enhance the influence of Y and T in the equation. There’s still something to be said for just happening to know the right people, being in the right place, and at the right time.
And when predicting income, all of this isn’t even considering the more tangible factors such as the products, company, support system and compensation plan of the specific opportunity you’re considering. All of these factors, and especially comp plans, tend to perform far differently in actual practice than they do on paper. How closely each of these factors are represented in relation to reality varies significantly from company to company and from sponsor to sponsor.
This is also not even factoring in the issue of net income vs. gross income. Who cares if you succeed in earning five grand in six months if it costs you six grand a month to do it? Okay, so $5,000 in profit then. Well, is that $15,000 gross income and $10,000 in expenses, or $5,500 gross and $500 in expenses? The less you put into building the business the less you can expect out of it. It’s reasonable to assume, as in any business, the greater your budget, the faster you’re reach your profit goal. I’m often asked, “So how much should I budget each month for my MLM business?” My answer is always, “The most you can comfortably afford, but not a penny more.” I have no idea what that number is for each prospect, and more times that not, neither do they!
I’m certainly not suggesting you can’t make $5,000 in six months in MLM. All I’m saying is, don’t ask if you can. You’re just begging to be mislead.